Saturday, June 15, 2013

Summer Solstice

The gardens are blooming and summer is in full swing. Fire up the barbeque, turn on the sprinkler and enjoy the celebrations of Midsummer! Also called Litha, this Summer Solstice Sabbath honors the longest day of the year. Take advantage of the extra hours of daylight and spend as much time as you can outdoors.  In ancient times, the Sun was believed to be the center of the universe, the core of existence.  Sunrise in the Midwest USA will be 5:13 am on June 21.
The Summer Solstice or Midsummer was second only to Yule in importance to the ancient Northman. It is a time for general laughter, bonfires, food and dances. The day is dedicated to Baldur, God of Light and in honor of Sunna, Goddess of the Sun. A fire is lit in honor of a solar deity and the Sun, jumping through the flames will purify and renew energies. As we pass through the longest days and the shortest night of the year, it is appropriate to meditate on the good things of life.

The Sun is one of many objects in the sky that has been used in Wicca practices.  Early people believed the Sun was a symbol of the divine force that gave us life on Earth.  To physically feel the power of the Sun beating down on our skin, warming us, have it determine the length of the day and provide the light we need to survive under has made it an influential force.

Depending on your individual spiritual path, there are many different ways you can celebrate Litha, but the focus is nearly always on celebrating the power of the Sun. It's the time of year when the crops are growing heartily and the Earth has warmed up. This is the traditional time for Pagans to clear crystals and gather supplies from outside because the solar energy is at its strongest on this day. We can spend long sunny afternoons enjoying the outdoors and getting back to nature under the long daylight hours.


The Feast of St. John the Baptist

Solstice festivities in Europe were Christianized when the church set June 24th as a holy day celebrating the birth of St. John the Baptist. Jesus referred to John as "A burning and shining light" and so traditional pagan customs of lighting bonfires were easily appropriated for the Christian holiday.

Celebrate Fathers

By welcoming the God of your tradition, you can honor the men who have impacted your life - whether they raised you, loved you or are being brought up by you.  This simple rite also offers your boys a chance to get out there and dance, and to celebrate the masculine within themselves.

Invocation of the Four Directions

East: Welcome East, the power of air, of dawn, of Spring, of new beginnings. We welcome your return with your fresh breezes and flowers bursting forth. Let our imaginations soar like the eagle. Inspire our thoughts as we dream of a bright future and plant the seeds of hope.

South: Welcome South, the power of fire and summer. Bring back the strength of the Sun, but temper it with life giving rain. Help us to put our dreams for a better world into action. Give us strength and courage like the lion.

West: Welcome West, the power of water and evening. We are grateful for cool evenings and rains that keep our land green and help seeds to grow. We are grateful for loving families and the time we share with them each day.

North: Welcome North, Power of the Earth, winter and midnight. As we wake from our winter dreams and burst forth into spring, keep us grounded in the Earth. Help us remember to walk gently on the Earth and treat her with kindness, for she is our mother.


Norse Paganism

In Icelandic folk beliefs this shortest night of the year is filled with magical powers. Alfs and Vettir come out in the night and party and dance around the bonfire together with the people. Young women roll naked in the morning dew to become fertile. This probably connects with this day being a popular wedding or handfasting day.

Honor the Season

Many ancient cultures marked the Summer Solstice with rites and rituals honoring the Sun. Many congregate at Stonehenge in England, or other parks, on this day to watch the sunrise. The Sun generates warmth and keeps life on Earth moving.  Celebrate the significance of Midsummer with ritual and prayers that recognize the Sun and its magnificent power. Set up your Litha altar with symbols of the season - solar symbols, candles and Midsummer fruits and vegetables.


Clean Things Up

Clean your house. Take advantage of the warm weather to have a garage sale and get rid of all those things you don't want. You can also organize a swap with your friends or donate all your stuff to charities like Goodwill or Salvation Army. You've got plenty of daylight at Litha, so you can accomplish a lot in just a short period of time.

A Prayer to the Sun

The Sun is high above us shining down upon the land and sea,
making things grow and bloom. Great and powerful Sun, we honor you this day
and thank you for your gifts. Ra, Sun, Helios, Sunna, Svarog,
you are known by many names. You are the light over the crops,
the heat that warms the Earth, the hope that springs eternal,
the bringer of life. We welcome you, and we honor you this day,
celebrating your light, as we begin our journey once more into the darkness.


The Strength to allow one to achieve in the face of opposition.


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